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Australia shouldn't have third world energy problems

Australia shouldn't have third world energy problems

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel's report on energy security, due in a week or so, cannot come a moment too soon. In a country brimming with energy resources, the nation's boardrooms are now basing decisions on whether they will be able to get viable power or not. This week Glencore warned its Queensland copper operations were now a year to year proposition, the latest in a line of businesses suggesting they might vote with their feet. Australia's cheap energy once attracted the investment that created industrial jobs with high wages. Now all three are under deep threat.

These are third world problems, and they began long before the NSW and ACT poles and wires owners won their fight with regulators last week to lift prices. It started when Labor and the Greens looked to lower carbon emissions with little regard for the right mix of power to achieve that transition, destabilising power markets and adding huge costs. State governments banned development of gas, the critical transition fuel. The energy policy trainwreck has now engulfed our flagship LNG industry, with the government threatening to divert export gas to cover up the shambles at home. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has already ruled out an emissions intensity scheme, likely to be Professor Finkel's chief recommendation to reconcile energy and carbon costs.

When governments lose their grip on policy coherence, this is what it looks like.

Financial Review

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